Critics’ Picks

Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art, 1998.

Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art, 1998.

New York

Zaha Hadid

Artists Space Exhibitions
38 Greene Street 3rd Floor
June 4–July 26, 2003

Zaha Hadid's signature drawings—eyeballed perspectives delineated by ghostly, phosphorescent white lines on black backgrounds—started her career in the early 1980s. For years her work existed almost exclusively on paper, but the 1998 commission to design Cincinnati's Center for Contemporary Art constituted a turning point. Now, her drawings are being transformed into buildings at an astonishing rate, although sleight-of-hand draftsmanship remains at the core of her work. The array of recent projects at Artists Space—represented by models, digital animations and paintings, as well as drawings—is a catalogue of visceral apparitions. Twisting, curvaceous shapes, dramatic perspectival distortions of depth, and the frenetic pushing and pulling of fragmented architectural volumes all capture the viewer's attention. It's impossible to be unimpressed by the stylish virtuosity, and the sheer quantity, of Hadid's idiosyncratic gestures. After the giddy disorientation they first engender fades, what remains are well-made spectacles conceived through pictorial illusionism. Her buildings sometimes arouse the sneaking suspicion that they're not much deeper than the sheets of paper they were conceived upon, but, like a skillful illusionist, Hadid continues to suck you in with architecture that demands to be seen.